UK irks EU with call to change post-Brexit trade rules

Jul 21, 2021, 1:36 AM | Updated: 1:33 pm
FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2021 file photo, police patrol the port of Larne, Northern Ireland. Tense po...

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2021 file photo, police patrol the port of Larne, Northern Ireland. Tense post-Brexit relations between Britain and the European Union face further strain on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, when the U.K. calls for major changes to trade rules agreed on by both sides, Brexit minister David Frost will set out proposals for smoothing trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the 27-nation bloc. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file)

(AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file)

LONDON (AP) — The British government said Wednesday that post-Brexit trade rules it negotiated with the European Union “cannot go on” and need a major rewrite, straining already tense U.K.-EU relations and drawing a message of concern from the U.S. government.

The government said Britain would be justified in unilaterally suspending the legally binding Brexit agreement but had decided not to do so just yet.

Since the U.K. left the EU’s economic embrace at the end of 2020, relations have soured over trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the 27-nation bloc. The divorce deal the two sides struck before Britain’s departure means customs and border checks must be conducted on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

The regulations are intended to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process. But they have angered Northern Ireland’s British unionists, who say they amount to a border in the Irish Sea and weaken ties with the rest of the U.K.

Britain accuses the EU of taking a “purist” approach to the rules that is causing unnecessary red tape for businesses, and has called for the bloc to show “pragmatism.”

Brexit minister David Frost said Britain had tried to implement the arrangements “in good faith” but that they were causing a severe burden on businesses and society in Northern Ireland.

“Put very simply, we cannot go on as we are,” he said Wednesday in Parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords.

Frost said “the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16,” an emergency brake in the agreement allowing for it to be suspended by one side in extreme circumstances.

“Nevertheless, we have concluded that this is not the right moment to do so,” he said.

Triggering Article 16 would likely send relations between the EU and its former member into a tailspin. The bloc is already frustrated at what it sees as Britain’s failure to implement the agreement it signed up to.

The bloc’s lead Brexit official, Maros Sefcovic, said the EU is “ready to seek creative solutions” but “will not agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol,” as the Northern Ireland section of the Brexit deal is known.

The EU says Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government knew full well that there would be checks when it signed the Brexit deal.

“Britain decided itself to leave the single market of the European Union, to apply trade rules, to apply red tape to its goods that are leaving Britain, to goods that are coming into Britain,” Irish European affairs minister Thomas Byrne said.

Frost said Britain was seeking a “standstill period” in which grace periods delaying the imposition of some checks and goods restrictions would be maintained while a permanent solution is found. Ultimately, Britain is seeking to remove most checks, replacing them with a “light touch” system in which only goods at risk of entering the EU would be inspected. But the low level of trust between the two sides makes that difficult.

U.S. President Joe Biden has even been drawn into the dispute, raising concerns about the potential threat to Northern Ireland’s peace accord.

State Department spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday stressed Biden’s “unequivocal” support for Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord and said the administration “encouraged all parties to prioritize political and economic stability in Northern Ireland’s in the context of these discussions.”

“We support a close relationship between the U.K. and the EU, and between all communities in Northern Ireland as well,” Price said. “And we continue to encourage the parties to negotiate within existing mechanisms and to avoid unilateral actions.”

Last month, Britain and the EU gave themselves breathing time by delaying until the end of September a ban on chilled meats such as sausages from England, Scotland and Wales from going to Northern Ireland.

The “sausage war” has been the highest-profile element of the U.K.-EU dispute, raising fears that Northern Ireland supermarkets may not be able to sell British sausages, a breakfast staple.

Archie Norman, chairman of food and fashion chain Marks and Spencer, said that the new rules meant there would be “gaps on the shelves” in Northern Ireland at Christmas.

“This Christmas, I can tell you already, we’re having to make decisions to delist product for Northern Ireland because it’s simply not worth the risk of trying to get it through,” he told the BBC.

Louise Haigh, Brexit spokeswoman for Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, said the government had triggered “another Brexit ‘Groundhog Day,’ another standoff with the EU.”

“These endless games are shredding our international reputation,” she said.

The U.K. is also clashing with the EU over Gibraltar, a British territory at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula that is claimed by Spain. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused the EU this week of seeking “to undermine the U.K.’s sovereignty over Gibraltar” with proposals for negotiations on the territory’s future.

___

Matthew Lee in Washington contributed.

___

For more of AP’s Brexit coverage, go to https://apnews.com/hub/brexit

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for September delivery rose $1.75 to $90.76 a barrel Monday. Brent crude for October delivery rose $1.73 to $96.65 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for September delivery rose 3 cents to $2.89 a gallon. September heating oil fell 4 cents to $3.18 a gallon. September natural gas fell 47 cents to $7.59 […]
13 hours ago
FILE - A giant tarp, bottom,  covers a section of rubble where search and rescue personnel have bee...
Associated Press

Judge: property sale will pay fallen Florida condo’s taxes

Money from the sale of Florida beachfront property where a collapsed condominium tower once stood will be used to pay property taxes of the destroyed units, a judge ordered Monday. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said in a brief ruling that the 2022 tax payments should not be deducted from the $96 million previously earmarked […]
13 hours ago
FILE - Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a ne...
Associated Press

Lawyer: Giuliani won’t testify Tuesday in Ga. election probe

ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani will not appear as scheduled Tuesday before a special grand jury in Atlanta that’s investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia, his lawyer said. A judge last month had ordered Giuliani, a Trump lawyer and former New York […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

US obtains warrant to seize $90M jet of Russian oligarch

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge authorized the United States on Monday to seize a $90 million jet belonging to a Russian oligarch in a continuing effort to diminish the financial pillars of the Russian government after its invasion of Ukraine. The effort to seize Andrei Skoch’s private plane, an Airbus A319-100, was part of […]
13 hours ago
This image released by Simon & Schuster shows "I'm Glad My Mom Died," a memoir by Jennette McCurdy....
Associated Press

Jennette McCurdy rises above childhood trauma with new book

Jennette McCurdy is well-aware the title of her new book, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” (Simon & Schuster) is attention-grabbing. She also readily admits that she means every word. “It’s something that I mean sincerely, I’m not saying it to be flippant.” McCurdy, who co-starred in Nickelodeon shows “iCarly” and its spin-off ” Sam & […]
13 hours ago
This image released by Simon & Schuster shows "I'm Glad My Mom Died," a memoir by Jennette McCurdy....
Associated Press

Jennette McCurdy rises above childhood trauma with new book

Jennette McCurdy is well-aware the title of her new book, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” (Simon & Schuster) is attention-grabbing. She also readily admits that she means every word. “It’s something that I mean sincerely, I’m not saying it to be flippant.” McCurdy, who co-starred in Nickelodeon shows “iCarly” and its spin-off ” Sam & […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
UK irks EU with call to change post-Brexit trade rules